For the past few summers in Edmonton, it has been a sea of orange barricades, big yellow trucks, and crushed up rubble. As the city develops we begin to see more shiny new buildings and glitzy new signage, but we sometimes forget the little beauties that have had roots in the city for years. Typography is essential to the life of a designer as well as the every day person. Whether we are trying to find our way, checking for ingredients, or just simply walking around a city, it is something that we are constantly around. Typography is an obsession of mine and finding beautiful type within the city is my favourite thing to do. Type and signage can tell you a lot about the history of the place you are in and give you some insight on that neighbourhood or building.
Some of my favourite pieces of typography are the hand painted signs in the city scattered throughout Downtown and in the Garneau area. There is something about the way they have aged and faded that give a lot of character to the buildings that they are displayed on. On the bustling sidewalks of Whyte Avenue, you are amongst a sea of signage and displays. When you look beyond those signs you can see glimpses of Edmonton’s past written onto the brick walls.
Podersky’s Furniture – 104 Street and Whyte Avenue (Richard’s Block Building)
Louis Podersky was a Chicago-born pioneer businessman and founder one of the first auctioneering businesses in Edmonton. He opened his first business in 1912 then later opened his own store, Podersky Furniture Exchange, on 98 Street and Jasper Avenue. As seen on the sign, Podersky opened his second store on 104 Street and Whyte Avenue, and the building is now the home of Tutti Frutti and Kit and Ace.
Strathcona Furniture – 82 Ave and Gateway Boulevard (Crawford Block)
Crawford Block, the Edwardian-style building that displays the Strathcona Furniture sign was constructed in 1912 by Herbert H. Crawford as a tent and awning store. In 1935, Nathan Siegel made Crawford Block home for Strathcona Furniture. For over 60 years it was a family-run home furnishing store which then closed in 1996. Currently, the building is home to Artifacts, a local jewelry and gift company.
These are just two of many painted signs that are still standing in the city. Thankfully both buildings are registered as Historical Buildings and will remain standing for years to come so next time you take a walk down Whyte Ave or Downtown, stop and try to find these hidden gems!